Social workers can bridge the mental health gap

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Two states are taking steps to address the shortage of qualified mental health professionals in the workforce by authorizing licensed clinical social workers to treat injured workers.

California law passed Law In 2022, New York is considering legislation to remove some of the barriers and remove some of the barriers to getting treatment for social workers in the workers’ compensation program, and after passing a law in 2020 — AB 1014 – It will change the requirements. Workers in Texas, a third state, allow licensed clinical social workers to assist with vocational rehabilitation.

Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc. Mark Debus, clinical manager of Chicago-based Behavioral Health, said the move to allow licensed clinical social workers to provide treatment under the workforce makes sense because they can manage many of the issues typically handled by psychologists.

“Licensed clinical social workers have the same postgraduate experience as licensed psychologists in New York,” she said. “They must meet a certain level of supervised clinical expertise, both grounded and direct therapy. It’s similar to the licensed psychologist requirement.

California is another state with many of the same strict requirements for both fields, said Marcia Schwartzman Levy, former president of the New York chapter of the Larchmont, New York-based National Association of Social Workers and a private clinical social worker. Practice.

Both states “have some very strict requirements to become a licensed clinical social worker,” she said.

Mrs. Schwartzman Levy spent most of his career working in public hospitals in New York, including as a trauma unit medical supervisor. The link between physical injury and mental injury is well established, pointing to literature dating back to 2001 about injuries and the “biopsychosocial model” now widely used in workers’ compensation.

“I deal with grief, and it’s not just the grief of death in the larger sense; loss of function is a form of grief,” Ms. Linking mental health issues and physical injuries has long been part of what licensed clinical social workers are required to do, Schwartzman Levy said. “The biopsychosocial model is at the core of our belief system and practice,” he said.

A major difference between the careers of a licensed clinical social worker and a psychologist is pay. “Look at the fee schedule,” said Mr. Debussy said, calling social workers “underpaid.”

Medicare, based on many workers’ compensation fee schedules, reimburses clinical social workers 75% of the Medicare fee schedule, which varies by state, according to a 2021 report from the National Association of Social Workers. In comparison, psychologists are reimbursed 100%.

Gallagher Bassett Services Inc. Jennifer Cogbill, senior vice president of GB Care, based in Frisco, Texas, said many psychologists are unwilling to work at Medicare rates, leading to a shortage of medical professionals in the workforce. Licensed clinical social workers can help make services more available to injured workers, he said.

“The advantage is that they have a wide network of experts they can tap into,” he said.


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